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Is This Rutgers Professor Trying to Excuse Dharun Ravi + Molly Wei’s Involvement In Tyler Clementi’s Bullycide?

On Wednesday we’ll see some members of the Rutgers University community rally at something called “Justice Not Vengeance,” an event organized by the (unofficial) “queer-centric” student group Queering The Air. It’s all part an effort to shift blame from students Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei — who stand accused of live webcasting Tyler Clementi‘s intimate dorm room encounter that preceded his suicide — to, uh, Rutgers itself?

“Ravi and Wei have become a foil for anti-Asian racism calling for their ‘return to their countries,’ and ascribing homophobia to their cultures – as if homophobia were not deeply ingrained in the culture of the U.S.,” says Robert T. O’Brien, an anthropology department instructor (who’s led classes on gender theory), in a statement. (He is apparently part of this student group?) “Two students are being scapegoated for the failure of the university and the wider community to provide a safe environment for Rutgers’ diverse community. Such public outrage often fuels vengeance and inequality rather than just actions.”

The event will be at least the second time O’Brien has led or participated with students in a demonstration; a previous rally on Sept. 30 had him shouting, “Civility without safety, over our queer bodies.”

And I totally get his message: Clementi’s death isn’t just a teaching moment about homophobia, but about how universities must do more to create welcoming and safe environments for students. But let’s not kid ourselves about the alleged culpability of these two students. What they’re accused of doing is criminal, and they should be held accountable — and we shouldn’t be removing their names from the conversation. Any racist tones, however, must go.

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  • Cam

    How nice for those two students that apparently they can participate in any vile activity out there, and yet anybody who calls their behavior unacceptable is anti-Asian.

    The KKK should have been doing this YEARS ago! I can just see it now.

    “Well sure, we burned that cross and beat up and murdered all those minorities, but anybody that has a problem with it is an anti-white racist.”

    Is this the kind of teaching that is going on in America’s Universities?!!? No WONDER we are falling behind the rest of the world if this is what passes for critical thinking.

  • Mike

    With any issue or debate in the public forum, you’re going to have a handfull of racist blockheads who use that moment of outcry form the public at a platform for their hateful remarks and beliefs.

    For the 95% of us who are angry and demand justice be doled out against these two students, their race has nothing to do with it. It’s because their assholes, the evidence (against beating a dead horse here) points to them hatefully doing what they did with knowledge of it, and then trying to cover it up once it blew up in their face.

  • Roland

    Red Herring!

  • B

    No. 1 · Cam wrote, “How nice for those two students that apparently they can participate in any vile activity out there, and yet anybody who calls their behavior unacceptable is anti-Asian.”

    In fact, there is something wrong with some individuals demanding that these two characters “return to their countries,” when for all we know they and their parents could have been born here. It’s not like they are recent immigrants who would typically be deported if they commit a crime before becoming U.S. citizens and its not like we demand that descendants of people who came here on the Mayflower “return to their countries” if they commit a crime, in spite of puritanism having screwed this country up.

    I’d disagree with O’Brien scapegoating comment if only because they should have known better, but with one caveat – the extent of Molly Wei’s involvement is not that clear but people are jumping to conclusions anyway. We do know that Dharun Ravi had to come up with $20,000 in bail to get out of jail whereas Molly Wei was released on her own recognizance, which is an indication that they don’t share the blame equally as far as the DA could determine.

  • ewe

    I say there is enough blame to go around for all of them.

  • Eugene

    First of all, @Cam: the term “anti-white racist” can’t even exist. Ever heard of “the isms?” The term racist does not simply connote sentiment against a particular racial/ethnic group, but a power structure that supports such a discourse. Thus, you can be anti-white, but unless you live in a society that has a history of systematically oppressing whites, you are simply bigoted/prejudiced, but not racIST.

    Furthermore, I completely disagree with Ravi/Wei being placed in the “bully” category so unquestioningly. What they did was obviously an invasive and even criminal act. But it makes me think, had this suicide not been part of a string of bullycides, whether we would so unequivocally condemn these two college kids. Yes, what they did was wrong, and while I’m not saying it’s any better than offensive name-calling and even physical violence, is it even comparable? It’s very convenient to group this along with all the other bully-induced suicides having taken place recently. It allows us, the queer community, to call for our rights to a safe and nurturing academic, professional, and social environment for everyone. It’s a shame that we’re viewing these two dumbasses (but not necessarily bigots) as a byproduct of our struggle.

  • Walter

    As far as I’m concerned this group are the only ones trying to bring race into this. Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei committed a very serious crime against Tyler and Queering the Air are mere bully sympathizers. I see a lot of people who want justice served but not because of their race but because of the crime they committed. The guy who filmed the ESPN woman is now a registered sex offender. This is not any different.

    To the poster about Molly, it was in her room, and it was on her hardware that they spied on him and I am sure the 2nd attempt was also going to be held in her room as well. So she is getting a good deal already for not be charged for that 2nd failed attempt. The audacity of her lawyer to even say she’s innocent blows my mind..if she’s innocent then she must have some evil twin running around letting people into her dorm room to illegally spy on someone.

  • David

    It is deranged “queer studies” clowns like this, who thrive on
    inter-group conflict and on finding ever more creative
    ways of being “transgressive”,that decided that gays
    and lesbians should henceforth be called “LGBT” or
    “queers”, in a deliberate attempt to redefine gayness
    as something marginalizing.

    They don’t care how many people they hurt. They don’t care about the consequences that will be felt by young gay kids and gay adults in vulnerable positions who really do not need or want to be at war with society. They only care about themselves, their endless posturing, and their need to position themselves as some sort of moral authority.

    They have no moral authority. They are liars. Many are racists, or at the least, racialists. We should stand for truth. And as such, that means holding Wei and Ravi accountable for their actions and it means opposing this effort to brand gay kids like Billy Lucas and Asher Brown as “queers” or transgendered.

  • Miguel Peralta


    “The term racist does not simply connote sentiment against a particular racial/ethnic group, but a power structure that supports such a discourse.”

    Wrong. There is no “power structure” component to the definition. This was added by self-serving black activists and their pseudo-academic sympathizers in the 1980s when it became clear that the issue of black racism or “reverse racism” was growing in prominence and there was a need to keep racism as a charge that could only be leveled at white people. It is nothing more than a crass attempt to define the problem of anti-white and anti-Asian racism out of existence and to preserve the special victim status of groups preferred by the academic left. Fortunately, very few people take you, your faux intellectualism, or your laughably self-serving definitions seriously.

  • reason

    He makes a valid point, and I have seen it first hand. People quickly take the actions of an individual and try to generalize it to an entire community. I have no doubt that some people on that campus are turning it into an Asian American witch hunt, whether those individuals are sympathetic to what happened to Clementi or would have joined in. The two perpetration should face justice for their actions, but trying to minimizes it to a problem of two individuals or the Asian community is counterproductive and dishonest. Ultimately it takes the spotlight off of real bigots that not only will bully Asians granted that it is “acceptable” during this time but will readily attack homosexuals when the next opportunity arises. It is some sort of sick mindset that if people in my group get bullied I am going to attack a bunch of innocent people as a reprisal, when in truth they are just as wicked as Clementi’s bullies if not more so.

    It seems like they are simply saying that the perps deserve justice, but that doesn’t give anyone on that campus the right to start attack an entire group of people that are in no way connected to Molly and Dharun except the color of their skin.

  • reason

    @Cam: What the KKK did years ago is if one black person did something bad they used it as an excuse to burn, kill, and rape innocent black people. Guess what? The communities turned a blind eye which gave the KKK much of its power back in the day. They used the same excuses about blacks thinking that they were above justice or were always trying to use race to escape justice. This is about Molly and Dharun as well as all of the other bigots around campus. It is not about using Asians as a scapegoat, which will only empower the real bigots around campus (that likely hate GBLT) like the KKK was empowered decades ago.


    It seems to me that the it was actual people committed the illegal act which caused Tyler to fall so far into despair that he took his life, not their ethnicity…………….

    ……….This is nothing more than a veiled attempt by homophibic anti Gay forces to try and lessen the penalties for these two scumbags for their actions by trying to pull out the race card…………

  • Jimmy Fury

    @reason: If they were “simply saying the perps deserve justice” it would be fine.

    But to claim they’re a scapegoat is something else entirely. Scapegoats take the blame when they are blameless. Ravi and Wei aren’t blameless.

    Anyone using their actions as fodder against all asians is an asshole. But that stupidity does not absolve Ravi and Wei of what they did.

  • Cam

    @Eugene: said…

    “First of all, @Cam: the term “anti-white racist” can’t even exist. Ever heard of “the isms?” The term racist does not simply connote sentiment against a particular racial/ethnic group, but a power structure that supports such a discourse.

    Actually no, that is part of the discredited early 80’s discourse on race that went on in schools “Race plus power equals racism, you can’t be a racist if you don’t ahve power”.

    Racism is defined as making a negative judgement, or having a negative opinion of somebody due to their race, end of story.

    But a nice attempt to distract from the actual problem, i.e. the fact that a professor is trying to clear these two nighmarish, terrible people of what they did, by claiming that they are only being judged because of their race. Nope, they are being judged because their actions lead to the death of somebody. Their race is irrelevent.

    The people in Mississippi attacking Constance McMillian after she wanted to go to prom were mostly white, and the community attacked them. We are defending dead and bullied children. To try to deflect that fact is just sickening.

  • Jay

    I totally agree with the professor. Although the two students are culpable, the wider issues need to be addressed! I don’t think it does ANY good to keep bringing up the two students when many Americans have done similar things, but have not had someone commit suicide because of their actions.

  • Joe

    if u notice too the only people who have endorsed this group are mostly just more rutgers people..I dont see them as actually making any demands they expect the president to agree to, just an attempt to distract from the crime committed by ravi and wei

    This Queering the Air statement has been endorsed by the following
    organizations: Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP) (New York,
    NY); LLEGO (The LGBTQQIA People of Color Union at Rutgers); Rutgers
    University Asian American Leadership Cabinet; Members of the Collective for
    Asian American Scholarship, Rutgers University; Rutgers University BAKA –
    Students United For Middle Eastern Justice; and the Rutgers University
    Women¹s Center Coalition.

  • B

    No. 1 · Cam wrote, “How nice for those two students that apparently they can participate in any vile activity out there, and yet anybody who calls their behavior unacceptable is anti-Asian.”

    You can reasonably assume that the people who told these two students to “return to their countries” are at least a little bit racist. It’s not like they make that demand to descendants of people who arrived here on the Mayflower.

  • Jeremy

    It’s gonna take a little more than the race card to make me feel sorry for these 2

  • Avenger

    Racism in the gay community is prevalent.

  • Melissa

    Are you incapable of reading? The people that have been commenting on their behavior are anti-Asian not because they believe what they did was wrong; they are anti-Asian because they’re blaming the culture and the entire race for the behavior of these two people. They’re also telling them to go back to their countries as if White people belong here. Please. Learn something.

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